Brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) - local seasonal appearance

Based on 21 observations in Seymour township, Northumberland county, southeast Ontario, 1999-2013.

The brown thrasher is one of my favourite local birds, though often seen only in a fleeting glimpse. It is widespread in southern Ontario, seem along the shore of Lake Ontario and to the east: Toronto Island, Leslie Street Spit, Presqu'ile park, North Beach, Prince Edward Point, and inland to the north, the Carden Plain, Carmen Road (south of Trent Hills), and the Stirling and Tweed areas. It is generally seen solo, or rarely in pairs. Seymour conservation area, the Bannon Road, Ferris park and the Trent canal between locks 8 and 9 are some local haunts over the years. The season in Trent Hills seems to be quite short: generally late April to late July, extreme dates being 26-29 April (over five separate years) to 28 July and 10 August.

At Presqu'ile provincial park, roughly 40 km to the south, the brown thrasher is an uncommon migrant and breeding summer visitor, between late April and mid-October (LaForest, 1993, pp.283-284). In Peterborough county, to the northwest, the thrasher is a common summer resident with, remarkably, three winter records (Sadler, 1983, p.125). The brown thrasher is widespread across southern Ontario (Cadman et al., 1987, pp.336-337). More scattered breeding sites extend past Thunder Bay to the Manitoba border. The species is most abundant nowadays from Lake Simcoe east to the St. Lawrence waterway (Cadman et al., 2007, pp.448-449). However, the thrasher is in decline, as favourable scrub habitat in abandoned farming land is reclaimed by forest.

View the complete 15-year (1999-2013) monthly data summary (442 kb pdf file).


Cadman,MD, Eagles,PFJ and Helleiner,FM (1987) Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario. Federation of Ontario Naturalists and Long Point Bird Observatory, published by University of Waterloo Press, 617pp.

Cadman,MD, Sutherland,DA, Beck,GG, Lepage,D and Couturier,AR (editors) (2007) Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005. Bird Studies Canada, Environment Canada, Ontario Field Ornithologists, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and Ontario Nature, 706pp.

LaForest,SM (1993) Birds of Presqu'ile Provincial Park. Friends of Presqu'ile Park / Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, 436pp.

Sadler,D (1983) Our Heritage of Birds: Peterborough County in the Kawarthas. Peterborough Field Naturalists / Orchid Press, Peterborough, ON, 192pp.

Graham Wilson, posted 22 May 2014

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